The REO Rant: Interstate 440 in Nashville


I am not the first person to write about this. I won’t be the last. Stated plainly: Interstate 440 in Nashville is an embarrassment. It is an embarrassment to the great city of Nashville. It is an embarrassment to the wonderful state of Tennessee. It is unsightly, unseemly, and unsafe.

There are sections of I440 that are nearly un-drivable unless you actually are trying to cause damage to your vehicle. There are so many potholes that you cannot avoid them. Some of those potholes are so large they have their own ecosystem. I narrowly avoided one the other that was so big, I’m pretty sure there was a family living in it. (Tiny houses are all the rage these days.)

A handful of years back, I440 was a decent drive. It was never the most pristine or the most luxurious of interstates, but it was well-maintained and did its job. Shockingly1, some genius decided to do some form of milling2 to the road. Now, I realize the interstate was not milled in the complete sense of the word. But something very much like milling was done. The road suddenly had deep lines that ran the entire length. At the time, it seemed as if this was the first step in resurfacing the interstate. How naïve and stupid of me to think something logical like that! Years and years later, no resurfacing has been done. The lines/grooves stayed and the road slowly began to crumble. I mean that literally. The road is crumbling. Falling apart. Eroding. You can see huge chunks of interstate splayed all over the shoulders of the road every time you are blessed enough to drive it. To make matters worse, when bad weather hits, potholes form. Instead of a few sprinkled here and there like any other interstate in the nation, I440 is simply riddled with them. I don’t like hyperbole but in this case, I believe it is warranted. There are more potholes per square foot of I440 than on any road I have ever driven or seen. (And I grew up in Central America.)

I’m not sure who to blame. Tennessee Department of Transportation surely deserves a good portion of the blame. I think the Governor and the Mayor of Nashville deserve some blame as well. Evidently, those in positions of power never have to drive I440 because if they did, it would have been fixed by now. If leaving this interstate to literally fall apart before our eyes is some sort of ploy to make the people of Nashville desperate for some big fix to our traffic problems, then that is sickening and evil. The decision-makers that have allowed this problem to get this bad need to be held accountable, fired, or forced to drive on I440 in a continuous loop from now until the end of time. Or until their vehicle breaks in half. Whichever comes first.

How many more tires have to blow before something is done? How many gallons of coffee must be spilled each time a pothole is hit? How many hubcaps need to be forcibly removed from their wheel only to go spinning down the road alone and afraid? How many children must ask, through tear-stained eyes, “Dear father, why does I440 look like a third world road instead of a beautiful, smooth, and safe interstate in the heart of one of America’s ‘It’ cities?”

Enough is enough.


  1. This is sarcasm. Nothing about government incompetence shocks me anymore.
  2. Pavement milling (cold planing, asphalt milling, or profiling) is the process of removing at least part of the surface of a paved area such as a road, bridge, or parking lot. Milling removes anywhere from just enough thickness to level and smooth the surface to a full depth removal.

Phill Lytle

I love: Jesus, my wife, my kids, my church, my family, my friends, Firefly, 80's rock, Lost, the Tennessee Titans, the St. Louis Cardinals, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, Arrested Development, pizza, vacation, etc...

8 thoughts on “The REO Rant: Interstate 440 in Nashville

  • March 5, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    It would seem that TDOT agrees with you about the need:

    My guess is that they were waiting on funding to be approved, at least to some degree, but I don’t know whether that explains the entire delay between milling and construction. Based on previous experience, I would guess that the milling was an attempt to provide a stop-gap until funding for the full reconstruction project could be secured, but I’m not familiar enough with the details of these projects to know all of that for sure.

    • March 5, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      “the stop-gap didn’t work out as well as they planned”

      That is putting it mildly. It is a complete and total failure. There is a section of it that I refuse to drive anymore because of how bad it is. I will take a longer route to avoid it. I’m not sure my poor little Toyota Yaris could survive another trip on that part of 440.

      Thanks for the comments, by the way. You know way more about this sort of stuff than I ever will. I’m just one of the poor saps in Nashville that has to drive it more often than I would like.

      • March 5, 2018 at 2:26 pm

        Yes, I’m sure I’m understating it because I don’t have the experience of regularly driving on it. I remember the last time I was on it was several years ago and it was pretty bad then. I can only imagine how much worse it has gotten since then. Good news is that help seems to be on the way; bad news is that if they are awarding the contract this summer, then they won’t start working on it until after that, which means that the finished product is still quite a way off.

        Go with God.

  • March 5, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    This article is absolutely true. This is bad as it will ever be…until they close I440 to fix it this summer. That will be a disaster. But it has to be done. But I want an REO article on how inconvenient it is to shut down I440 during the summer. It will be EPIC!

  • March 5, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    I laughed out loud so many times reading this. Top quality. 440 is trash!

  • March 5, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    This is why you do your homework before you vote for mayor. This is why you get involved with party politics and insist they support a viable candidate for Congress who is not the local chairman’s sister. And this is why you investigate how bids are given and insist there be state laws regarding quality control.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *